Blink, blink

Like bunnies caught in the headlights… today we have been able to venture outside, blinking in the cloudy day. The first time in 2 weeks where the temperature has been under 33 – and most of those 2 weeks we’ve had 37 to 46 degrees. I think there were two days under 37 (and above 30).

A consequence of the heat is the grapes have ripened a lot earlier than usual. I did a quick sugar test this morning from the poor, pathetic shrivelled things. If it’s possible to ferment out, this should yield a red with 16% alcohol. This is the highest sugar level EVER, and one of the earliest harvests.*

We picked today, a whole 6 1/2 buckets. A simlilar amount had to be dropped on the ground, or just left, because whole bunches are so dried there is no juice left to get. What we picked is now crushed and the juice is hard to find. The fermenter is under half full – and that includes the seeds, pulp and so on. The heat has taken its toll, the berries that looked good had very little juice in them either.

Still, we’ll get the ferment started soon, and might scrape in 4 to 6 bottles this year. In a more normal year, we would make somewhere around 30 bottles per row… this year I donated a row to the birds and a row for ourselves. So much for generosity to the birdies!

(The eye, by the way, seems to be just fine… and must be if I’m out picking grapes and making wine all day).

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* when the sugar level is too high, the little yeasties die before they can ferment all the sugar… the alcohol they make kills them. So making a wine with an alcohol level above about 14% to 15% is very difficult. A few winemakers can get up to about 16% or even a tiny bit higher, but it’s not the norm. So in this case, we’ll probably end up with a red of about 13% or 14% with some residual sweetness.

2 Comments

We were lucky Wally. Just had a weekend of 44 but nothing prior above 37. I don’t know how you lot coped. I don’t have aircon at home but the pool came into good use. You’re not the only one suffering unfortunately, apparently loads of winemakers have lost their crops. A nice little beaujolais perhaps? Six bottles? Looks like you’ll be patronising Dan Murphy’s this winter!

Comment by Baino | February 9th, 2009 4:41 am | Permalink

Our wine vines are not producing yet, however the Maroo are (the best seedless eating grapes I reckon).
Aliceann has managed to protect many bunches from the birds with paper bags however some bunches have died from the heat. The resulting raisins are really very nice.
Good luck with the wine, I still have not opened the one you gave us!! I will soon honestly!

Comment by pphilbro | February 11th, 2009 5:49 pm | Permalink

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